"Loading..."

BINA Beis Medrash

This week’s classes:

Sunday, July 21
Sunday Morning Beis Medrash
BINA Beis Medrash
Starts 8:00AM
Chaburah
BINA Beis Medrash
Starts 8:00PM

THE WISDOM OF THE WISE SON

As we all know, the number four permeates our seders each year. There are four words of redemption. We drink


four cups of wine. We ask four questions. There are four names for the holiday. The Torah commands us four times


to tell the story to our children. And of course, there are the famous four sons.


While significant analysis is given to the wicked son, the simple son and the son who does not know how to ask (at


modern seders, many often mention the son who is unfortunately not at the seder), what about the wise son?


חָ כָם מָ ה ה וּא א וֹ מֵ ר? מָ ה הָ עֵ ד וֹת וְ הַ חֻ קִּ ים וְ הַ מִּ שְׁ פָּ טִ ים אֲ שֶׁ ר צִ וָּה ה’ אֱ לֹ הֵ ינ וּ אֶ תְ כֶם. וְ אַ ף אַ תָּ ה אֱמ וֹר ל וֹ כְּ הִ לְ כ וֹת הַ פֶּ סַ ח: אֵ ין מַ פְ טִ י רִ ין אַ חַ ר


הַ פֶּ סַ ח אֲ פִ יק וֹ מָ ן:


“What does the wise [son] say? “‘What are these testimonies, statutes, and judgments that the Lord our God


commanded you?’ (Deuteronomy 6:20)”


And accordingly, you will say to him, as per the laws of the Pesach sacrifice, “We may not eat an afikoman [a dessert


or other foods eaten after the meal] after [we are finished eating] the Pesach sacrifice (Mishnah Pesachim 10:8).”


What is so amazing about this wise son? All he does is ask what the laws are that were commanded by Hashem. If he


truly is a wise son, shouldn’t he have come up with an incredible question, a question that is so deep and brilliant


that he would be deserving of the title “The Wise Son”? It seems like he only asks a very simple question! And worse,


the question isn’t specific! It doesn’t even refer to Pesach directly!


If this is how we understand the interaction between the wise son and his father, then we have completely missed


the essence of the question!


According to Rabbi Osher Weiss, a current Gadol and Posek in Israel who authored the Minchas Osher, the question


of each son reflects their inner personality. The wisdom of the wise son is the way in which he categorizes the


mitzvot into three distinct categories: . עֵ ד וֹת וְ הַ חֻ קִּ ים וְ הַ מִּ שְׁ פָּ טִ ים


 


עֵ ד וֹת refers to mitzvot that enable us to remember our history, such as keeping Shabbat so that we remember


that Hashem created the world or dwelling in a succah because that is what our ancestors did in the desert.


חֻ קִּ ים are mitzvot that seem counterintuitive, but we do them regardless purely because Hashem commanded us


to do them, such as Parah Adumah.


מִּ שְׁ פָּ טִ ים relates to mitzvot between man and man, including the laws of damages.


 


As we know, at the seder, we emphasize three unique mitzvot or components of the Egypt experience that must be


mentioned in order to fulfil one’s obligation:


. רַ בָּ ן גַּ מְ לִ י אֵ ל הָ יָה א וֹ מֵ ר: כָּל שֶׁ לֹּא אָ מַ ר שְׁ ל שָׁ ה דְּ בָ רִ ים אֵ לּ וּ בַּ פֶּ סַ ח, לא יָ צָא יְ דֵ י ח וֹ בָת וֹ, וְ אֵ לּ וּ הֵ ן: פֶּ סַ ח, מַ צָּה, וּ מָ ר וֹר


“Rabban Gamliel was accustomed to saying, Anyone who has not said these three things on Pesach has not fulfilled his


obligation, and these are them: the Pesach sacrifice, matzah, and maror. “


Why do we emphasize these three components? We could mention any points relating to


the story of Egypt! What is unique about these three that sets them apart?


 


According to Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz, these three components that are highlighted by Rabban Gamliel correspond


directly to the three distinct categories of mitzvot referred to by the wise son:


פֶּ סַ ח is a חֻ וֹ קִּ – the Jewish people openly went and took the item of Avodah Zara of the Egyptians, their


oppressors, and killed it purely because Hashem commanded them to. There was no logic to their actions. If


anything, they should have been scared to do so out of fear of the Egyptian’s reaction. Nevertheless, the Jews


acted purely because of the command from Hashem.


מַ צָּה is a mitzvah that commemorates what happened when we left Egypt, that the dough didn’t rise. By eating


Matzah, we recognize who we are, where we come from, and what our destiny as a nation is. This mitzvah is part


of the category of עֵ ד וֹת


מָ ר וֹר – is a recognition of how we were treated by others in Egypt, that we were oppressed. Through engaging


with this mitzvah, we learn how to behave when we one day gain power over a country in Eretz Yisrael, to not


abuse our power like the Egyptians but rather to help those in need. The eating of maror is part of the mitzvah


category of מִּ שְׁ פָּ טִ ים


 


Why is this important?


Because when reflecting on the answer given to the wise son, the father tells the son “ כְּ הִ לְ כ וֹת הַ פֶּ סַ ח ”, like the laws of


the Pesach.


What does this mean?


Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz provides us with a beautiful answer that we can use to inspire our seder this year.


The answer that we give to the wise son of כְּ הִ לְ כ וֹת הַ פֶּ סַ ח is an indication that the mitzvah of פֶּ סַ ח is a microcosm of


all the mitzvot in the Torah. The Haggadah doesn’t say that the father must teach the son הִ לְ כ וֹת הַ פֶּ סַ ח . It says that


the father must teach him כְּ הִ לְ כ וֹת הַ פֶּ סַ ח . That the father must teach the son “like” the Halachot of Pesach.


In the same way in which the three primary mitzvot of Pesach encapsulate all the three categories of mitzvot, so too


the father must teach his son at the Seder about the full gamut of mitzvot incumbent upon him!


The father isn’t telling his son only about the Pesach offering and the story of the Exodus.


The father is imprinting into the heart of his son the importance of all of the mitzvot in the Torah!


He teaches his son about all components of the three categories of mitzvot, leaving a deep impression on his son


that to be considered an Eved Hashem, absolute dedication is required.


At times, we do mitzvot to commemorate. At times, we do mitzvot because we feel the necessity to help our fellow


man. At times, we don’t know why we do the mitzvot, but we do them because Hashem said that we must.


The Seder is all about building Emunah, true and deep faith in our relationship with The Creator of the Universe. That


Emunah isn’t only based on the Pesach story, albeit that it is a critical component. But rather, we use the Pesach


story and the related mitzvot to inspire us to come closer to Hashem, to work on all components of our mitzvah


observance, and to work towards our goal of being an Eved Hashem.


The question of the wise son is spectacular! He takes the first step to engage in a meaningful


relationship with Hashem. The father follows suit and gives him the tools to do so.


 


~ Mikey Subel

Back